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Hi.

Remember me? Boy, have I got a LOT to fill you in on…

Since we last spoke – almost a year ago – everything has changed. And oh, do I mean everything.

Let me just see if I can give a brief recap of this year, at least: January and February were pretty normal. There was a boy that showed up, but that was done quicker than it would take for me to type out the details. Lots of planning for my church’s move and preparing for my second trip to Haiti.

March 2nd, I left for Port-au-Prince, armed with a single duffle bag (be proud, mom and dad, even though I left an ENTIRE BAG OF TOOLS…) and an editing copy of my brave best friend’s book. Let me tell you, unless you have a duffle bag chock full of kleenex, it’s NEVER a good idea to read about someone else’s journey in Haiti, while you’re on the way to Haiti, remembering some of your fondest memories of Haiti. All. The. Tears. My heart was already a little more on edge this go ’round as we weren’t going back to the same place we’d been before; I wasn’t going to be reunited with my little Louventa and I wasn’t happy about that. But I was very fortunate to have one of my funniest friends – Jami – along for this trip. The safety of having someone who can make anything seem better or more fun or more calm or more whatever you need it to be was a gift. The trip went great. It didn’t end up being even remotely close to the same experience…it was infinitely better. We built a house for a BEAUTIFUL woman named Kazi, a single mother of 5 and a new grandmother.
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55 years old and she looks younger than I do. Day 1 she takes me by the hand, leads me into her tarp house, sits me in a chair and hands me the most precious little boy – Stephen.
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I told her I was taking him home. She couldn’t speak english, but I know she understood that because she shook her finger at me! Kazi welcomed us into her family as we built her a sturdy home. It was hard work, but being able to go back to my room each night with some amazing friends and read more of my brave best friend’s journey helped me lead this trip better than I could’ve on my own.

I came back from the third world to an unbelievably frantic world. We were less than two weeks away from our relocation as a church. Our normal workload, combined with all the details of moving, on top of not even being sure the building would be ready was an exhausting combination. Oh, and Easter Sunday was the very next week…no big. ::sarcasm should be noted:: It was the blind leading the blind and hoping no one would see how truly tired, drained, and ready for some sense of normalcy we all were. Sometimes, I think I’m still trying to catch up on that lack of sleep. Another boy showed up in the midst of the chaos and what a great distraction! It’s so freeing to have someone you don’t have to pretend around, someone you just enjoy.

In April, I went back to Disney World for the first time in almost 10 years. It was twice as magical as I remembered.
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I really am glad that I got to go to the happiest place on earth for a little while. I had no idea that my world was going to be flipped on it’s head upon my return.

My time at Cross Point came to an end. It wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences I’ve had in my life and that hurt is something I’m still processing through. But everything in life is seasonal and if we quit anytime our feelings were hurt or our character misjudged, we wouldn’t be where we are today, right? So, we keep moving forward.

So what’s new?

I moved into a stunning little house in East Nashville, thanks to my good friends the Joneses. Every day, I go home and just feel at peace. This house truly is my sanctuary.

I made the tough decision to close out the chapter I’d been in with the new boy. It’s never an easy choice when you’ve invested so much in one person. But I’m holding onto truth – which told me it wasn’t going anywhere and I really didn’t want it to. Scary what taking a step back and looking at a situation with your eyes open will actually reveal.

Last week, I began a new job at a Children’s Home here in Nashville. I’m excited at what we’ll be able to accomplish for this state and for the kids we care for. Being able to be in a role where I can truly see the reward of my investment, where I get to live out Mark 9:37, is such a delight. And then finding out that my dad is on the board of a similar organization back home and we can walk through this together? So great.

Newness. All around. So thankful.

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If there’s one thing you don’t know about me (or maybe you do), it’s that I’m pretty stubborn. There are very few people who can get in the way of me when I’ve made up my mind about something. By very few, I mean Jesus and my dad.

Almost a year ago, I was sitting at Cross Point‘s downtown campus when Wes Howard announced that they would be going to Haiti. I was pretty excited. I remembered what I had learned about Haiti from the media – it had been devastated by a massive earthquake in 2010 and never fully recovered. I remember seeing all of the pictures. I knew people who went in to help. I prayed for the poor and powerless. And that was about it. Why? Because I had my own life and my own mission field to pursue – high school students. I also remember feeling like I should go. Then, of course, laughing.

The thing is, for as stubborn as I am, I am made in the image of God…and he can be just as persistent and relentless with what he wants. I started hearing more of the details of our partnership in Haiti and I was intrigued. Our pastor spoke on the importance of missions and my heart started beating faster. The high school girls I was working with began to put up walls and that, combined with an increasingly more busy schedule made it hard to continue ministry there. I had a pretty good argument with the Lord. And on the day that I moved the last of my stuff into the place I live right now – sitting in the middle of boxes and boxes of “stuff” – I gave up. I said yes. The girl who never wanted to go on a missions trip said yes.

I had no idea how much I needed it.

Fast forward to August 4th, 2012. I’m up far too early, grabbing my bags, and headed to the airport when one of my best friends starts playing and singing songs over me (she’s the best singer I know, so she could sing the annoying lambchop song and I would be totally fine about it). One of those is Take Heart by Hillsong United. And suddenly, this very stubborn and strong-willed girl is in a puddle of tears. I was terrified. I couldn’t breathe. I just kept thinking “what if a hurricane hits”…”what if we become prisoners to the country”…”what if I never see my family again”. Terrible thoughts, one after the other, over and over and over.

Then these words….

So take heart
Let His love lead us through the night
Hold on to hope
And take courage again

Peace.

We landed in Haiti. Driving around, I wasn’t shocked by what I saw. I knew what to expect. I was just fascinated…and glad to have made it. We stayed in Port au Prince the first night, got up and went to church, and made the 5 hour trek to our destination in the mountains in a town called SaintMichel-de-l’Attalaye. Our accommodations were far nicer than I expected, but still not like anything I was used to. Our food was great, our team got along well. There wasn’t much more we really could have hoped for. Monday the 6th was our first work day. I was on the morning work/afternoon play schedule. We set out bricks, poured mortar for about 3 rows and broke for lunch. After that, I was setting my stuff down when out of the corner of my eye, I realized there was someone waiting for me.

Her name is Louventa. She was my shadow for the rest of the week. Would not let go of my hand. And still hasn’t let go of my heart. She waited ever so patiently every day for us to finish lunch and would peek over the wall and say my name…which sounded like “creaseteen” from her surprisingly deep and raspy voice. She’s only 7 and has a stronger voice than I do. The minute I stood up for lunch, she would run to my side, brush the dust off my clothes, take my hand and lead me to play. We jumped rope, sang, did cartwheels, played chase, threw frisbees, drew pictures, and anything else we could dream up. The kids were more tiring than the work!

What I realized by the end of our time there was that the language barrier wasn’t such a barrier. Louventa would speak to me, and what I didn’t understand, she didn’t fault me for. She just held on to me tighter and showed me the way. And in that moment, I remembered what it means to be loved. Truly loved. I thought about the Father and how He tries to speak to me. I think about the times He invites me to dream and be adventurous with Him. I think about the times when I’m absolutely terrified, or weak, or I’m angry and I don’t understand…and He doesn’t fault me. He just holds me tighter and shows me the way.

I never wanted to go on a missions trip. Ever. I never thought I needed to. But the Father had to out-stubborn me and take me to one of the most broken countries in the world just so I could remember – really, truly remember – how much He loves me (and little Louventa). He orchestrated every event in my life to lead to this point so that a broken, confused, stubborn girl could realize her worth and how much everything counts. I will never be able to fix Haiti. No one person could. But I can love. I can be a light. I can hold a hand and pour mortar and jump rope until I can’t feel my legs anymore if it means little Louventa (or any other child) can understand that she is loved – furiously and unconditionally loved.

The words still echo in my mind…

All our troubles, And all our tears, God our hope – He has overcome

All our failure, And all our fear, God our love – He has overcome

All our heartache, And all our pain, God our healer – He has overcome

All our burdens, And all our shame, God our freedom – He has overcome

God our justice, God our grace, God our freedom – He has overcome

God our refuge, God our strength, God is with us – He has overcome!

little birdy told me…

Recurring Thoughts

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